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Stress Busters

I've come to realize what my clients need most is help with stress. Everyone tells us we need to de-stress, but where is the instruction manual? Most health care providers don't have time to explore the client's causes of stress or teach clients about lifestyle changes that reduce stress. Here is a sampling of an effective stress management program:

*An explanation of the stress response and how stress affects every body system. Clients are surprised to learn that the stress hormone cortisol affects blood sugar, and takes energy away from the digestive, reproductive, and immune systems. Stress hormones affect the body's regulation of salt and fluids in the blood, blood pressure and circulation, and the regulation of calcium and minerals in our bodies.

*A description of The Relaxation Response, which involves the parasympathetic nervous system and helps our bodies go into the "rest and repair" state. We explore individualized ways to evoke this response. Some methods to bring on relaxation include the use of essential oils, massage, meditation, yoga, chanting, and prayer. Another way is to engage in fun activities that help you lose track of time.

*An introduction to and online resources for The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, or Tapping). The practice of tapping has recently gained in popularity as scientific research has documented its effects on the body, specifically the brain and cortisol levels. Relatively easy to use, you are taught to tap on acupressure points on the upper part of your body, while engaging in a dialog about an emotional issue. Tapping halts the fight or flight response and helps reprogram the brain to react differently to stress.

*Clients are introduced to various meditation and visualization techniques and given online resources. We also explore what a spiritual practice might look like for you, which could include practicing gratitude, reading from a prayer book, or just learning to be mindful of what you're doing.

There are many creative ways to reduce stress. Stress could be the reason your health is not improving, even though you're eating well and exercising. Let's get out of fight or flight, and into a state of rest and repair.

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Meri Jo Bierig, Certified Whole Health Educator


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